November subscription drive

We had great fun at our subscription drive party Sunday. A couple of photos:

Linden MacIntyre spoke.
Mary Campbell and I gave out door prizes

It was a wonderful night, with a large crowd, and everyone seemed happy. I enjoy hosting the annual subscription party, not just to have fun and meet people, but also to acknowledge that this enterprise would not exist were it not for subscribers.

Subscriptions are our only source of income. We do not have advertising or advertorials, and we aren’t owned by Jeff Bezos. These are good things! It means you don’t get annoying pop-up ads, we don’t worry about pissing off some big company, and we aren’t pestering you to buy plastic crap through our Amazon link. Still, however, we need you to actually subscribe. Click here to subscribe, and thanks much!

1. Nalcor and Emera

A Nalcor Energy schematic of the Muskrat Falls project.

“A senior executive with Nalcor Energy confirmed Monday that cost estimates for the Muskrat Falls project were deliberately lowballed to help Emera with its application to the Nova Scotia utility regulator,” reports Terry Roberts for the CBC:

“I’m acknowledging that’s what was done. Yeah,” Gilbert Bennett said during questioning by lawyer Kate O’Brien at the Muskrat Falls inquiry.

Bennett said this decision was made by then-Nalcor CEO Ed Martin.

Roberts reports on how Nalcor changed how it evaluated risk that the project would go over budget, then continues:

All this occurred during negotiations with Emera, which was building the Maritime Link across the Cabot Strait in order to bring Muskrat Falls power to Nova Scotia.

Nalcor and Emera announced a partnership to develop the massive hydro project in late 2010, and it’s now become clear that Emera could only get approval from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to proceed with the Maritime Link if the price of Muskrat power was affordable.

The higher the capital cost, the higher the price consumers would have to pay for that electricity. 

“I know there was a ceiling price. If you went beyond that in comparing to (Emera’s) other alternatives, the Maritime Link and overall construct wasn’t going to be successful.” Bennett said.

Bennett was aware of the decision to remove strategic risk, and supported the move.

“I understood what the benefits were.… I was fully aware of it,” he said.

“And did you agree with it?” O’Brien asked.

“Under the circumstances here, yes,” Bennett said.

2. Not blowing up the casino is costing us $600,000

I’ve long argued that the Cogswell redevelopment project is pointless if we don’t also blow up the casino and the two parking garages adjacent to it. We could build a bunch of apartment buildings along the Cogswell strip, but so long as the casino is there, the apartment dwellers will have no easy access to the waterfront. Call it “Sewage Plant Estates,” I joke. But blow up the casino and the parking garages and replace them with a harbourfront park, and you’ve created a real neighbourhood.

Anyway, what with global warming and increasing sea levels and storm surges, it turns out the entire area from Purdys Wharf to Karlson’s Wharf on the DND property is subject to flooding: “It is almost certain that surface flooding at the Karlson’s Wharf site will occur within the next five years without the mitigation work,” reads a city staff report on the issue.

And what’s the mitigation work? The report explains:

One of the largest issues Halifax is currently facing is drainage and flooding problems that persist in areas that do not have a full and formal stormwater system that meets current standards. Current standards require that storm and sanitary flows be separated and that an overland storm drainage path be identified to accommodate major storm events. Upper Water Street has a combined (sanitary and storm) sewer and does not have an overland drainage path. Complicating this is the proximity of Upper Water Street to the Halifax Harbour and its elevation. High tides and storm surge limit the capacity of system to drain the street, and can cause surcharging of the sewer system.

The solution to the Karlson’s Wharf drainage problem is to raise the elevation of Barrington Street by about a metre to prevent future flooding of the street. This is consistent with measures identified in Policy E-22 of the Regional Plan, to mitigate the potential impacts of coastal inundation and storm surge events on human safety by placing the elevation of the street above the 3.8 metre elevation.

The solution for the second site (next to the Casino and Purdys Wharf) is a street centerline at a minimum elevation of 3.5 metres, to accommodate the proximity and elevation of the existing parking garage and the Casino entrance. Staff are recommending a modified street cross section and profile, so all new development (on the west side of the street) will be above the 3.8 metre elevation, and redevelopment to the east will be accommodated by modification of the street, if and when the Casino and Purdys Wharf sites are redeveloped.

The price tag for raising Water Street and Barrington Street is $300,000, which is included in the existing Cogswell redevelopment budget. But the costs of building new retaining walls and connecting curbs and such on adjoining non-HRM property, including the casino, is $600,000, which will have to be budgeted for.

I double-down on my opinion: blow up the casino and the parking garages, build a harbourfront park, and let the flood waters simply flow into the park.

3. Basso

Photo: Halifax Examiner

“A security video from the Metro Turning Point homeless shelter dominated the opening day of a Halifax Regional Police officer’s trial on three criminal charges, including assault causing bodily harm,” reports Steve Bruce for the Chronicle Herald:

Const. Gary Basso, 38, is accused of striking a man in the face and breaking his nose during an incident outside the Halifax shelter on the night of Feb. 25.

Basso also faces charges of public mischief and breach of trust, for allegedly falsifying police reports and notes after the incident to mislead police and divert suspicion from himself.

4. Shambhala

Sakyong Mipham

“In a statement to the Shambhala International community [Monday], the organization’s interim board says the law firm Wickwire Holm has been investigating allegations of sexual harm caused by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and other Shambhala leaders since late summer,” reports the Canadian Press:

The investigation closed to new claims on Nov. 16, and the investigator is continuing to review the claims received, the eight-member interim board said.

The investigator is expected to submit a final report to the Buddhist organization no later than early January, the board said.

I’m not sure how the report will be received by victims. I’m hearing that many people aren’t happy with the process, and see the law firm as too close to the organization. Also, some people have been complaining of victim-blaming — that some in the Shambhala community are downplaying the severity of the accusations.

5. Bay Ferries Management Ltd sued

“Engine room engineer Andwele Collingswood James has sued Bay Ferries Management Ltd for damages for a head injury he suffered while working on the TT Spirit four years ago,” reports Azard Ali for Newsday, a newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago:

In a claim filed in the High Court by attorney Odai Ramischand, James said that on October 25, 2014, he was standing on the main deck to refuel the TT Spirit, which was docked at the port in Port of Spain. It was due to return to Scarborough at 4 pm that day.

James, 49, said he was standing on the inboard side of the port door when suddenly someone recklessly dropped a cable from the lifeboats onto the main deck. The cable struck James and he suffered a brain injury. The lawsuit stated the injury resulted in James been unable to hear in his left ear.

In addition, he claims to have blurred vision in his left eye, recurrent headaches and partial sexual impotence. James is contending that Management Services Ltd was responsible for his employment on the TT Spirit and had a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace, especially while he carried out his duties.

At the time, the vessel transported passengers, people, vehicles and other cargo on the seabridge. James want damages for personal injuries, interest and costs.

NFL Holdings Ltd., based in Charlottetown, is the parent company of three subsidiary ferry companies:

• Bay Ferries Ltd. operates the Digby to Saint John ferry and the Yarmouth to Maine ferry.

• Northumberland Ferries Ltd. operates the Caribou, N.S. to Wood Island, PEI ferry.

• Bay Ferries Management Ltd. operates the high-speed inter-island ferry in Trinidad and Tobago.

NFL Holdings Ltd. is owned by Mark MacDonald, Donald Cormier, Gerard Stevenson, and Danny Bartlett.

6. Maine terminus still up in the air

A photo of the Alakai, the ship used for the Yarmouth ferry.
The Alakai. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Meanwhile, Bay Ferries Ltd. has still not signed a lease with the town of Bar Harbor, reports Peter McGuire for the Portland Press Herald:

In October, the Bar Harbor town council agreed to lease a town-owned ferry terminal to Bay Ferries. The company said it intends to invest $3 million to improve the disused terminal and restart service from Nova Scotia in 2019.

But a month later, Bay Ferries hasn’t signed a lease with Bar Harbor and still has the option to stay in Portland another year.

“The council authorized me to sign the lease, but (Bay Ferries) is still working on their due diligence and has not made a decision yet,” Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight said in an email. There is no deadline for Bay Ferries to sign an agreement with the town, he added.

In an email, Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald said the company had not made a final decision about moving the service.

“The city of Portland has been very accommodating in agreeing to extend the time for potential lease renewal in Portland while this process is ongoing,” he said.

The company has until Nov. 30 [i.e., this Friday] to decide whether it wants to renew its lease for the city-owned ferry terminal at Ocean Gateway, on the eastern end of Commercial Street.

An Oct. 15 deadline has been extended twice at Bay Ferries’ request.

7. Adventure of the Seas crew member is missing

A crew member from the Adventure of the Seas has gone missing. The ship, which is operated by Royal Caribbean, regularly calls in Halifax during the summer and fall cruising seasons; in winter, it plies the Caribbean. In 2018, the ship called in Halifax nine times.

“A number of cruise passengers on the Adventure of the Seas inform Cruise Law News that the captain announced to the cruise ship yesterday that a crew member disappeared from the ship,” writes Jim Walker, a lawyer who regularly sues the cruise ship industry on behalf of passengers and crew:

The Adventure of the Seas was in Cozumel when the captain made an announcement that an unidentified crew member could not be accounted for and was missing from the cruise ship. The crew member did not appear at his work station and the remainder of the crew was unable to locate him.

The fact that a crew member could “disappear” without a trace from the cruise ship indicates that Royal Caribbean has still not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system on this ship. Auto-MOB systems like this or this can detect a person going over the rails and send a signal to the bridge so that the ship can immediately search and try to rescue the person. Such systems consist of state-of-the-art motion detection sensors, thermal imaging and radar technology.

As matters now stand, when a crew member (or passenger) goes over the railing, unless an eye-witness observes the person going overboard and promptly reports it to the bridge, the ship will sail on, usually at night, without anyone knowing that a person is missing from the ship. It is not until some time after the crew member fails to show up to work that the ship will make any effort to search for the person.

Usually, the crew will search on the ship for the missing crew member and the staff captain or security chief will eventually look through any CCTV images to search for any clues whether the crew member jumped overboard. (The vast majority of crew members who disappear at sea do so intentionally; whereas, most passengers go overboard due to gross over-intoxication).

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships without explanation. During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.




City Council (Tuesday, 10am, Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel) — There is a public hearing at 6pm for the proposed development of the Ben’s Bakery property; this is yet another development that is being allowed to move forward before the Centre Plan is adopted, giving the lie to the notion that the Centre Plan will achieve anything much, even if it’s actually adhered to, which is unlikely.

Additionally, council will take up the issue of side guards on garbage trucks, which is doing something, I guess, but it’s a really watered-down proposal from the original idea that all trucks operated by or for the city be equipped with side guards.

And council is going to say it’s OK to name stuff after Mel Boutilier, even though Boutlier is very much alive. I dislike this policy. I think that we should wait until the Sidney Crosbys and Mel Boutliers of the world are dead and gone a few years (or decades), and even then we should maybe dig them up and pound a stake through their hearts just to be sure, before we name stuff after them.


Special Appeals Standing Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — the committee is meeting solely to appoint one of its members to the Executive Standing Committee.

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — see #2 above.

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, Alderney Gate) — read what the public thinks about the downtown Dartmouth plan, here.

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — committee member William Breckenridge wants “to create a master plan that would map out how to better identify, conserve and protect, HRM owned and private heritage sites”:

In doing so HRM would create a venue in the form of a municipal museum to display archaeological finds, while opening a central venue of education on the history of HRM, good or bad. Further, identify the need for a city historian by bringing the heritage planning team and a new municipal museum team together. This would give heritage and cultural assets the respect HRM has not given in the past.

Well, sure, but man, that horse left the barn a couple of decades ago. Now it’s all concrete and glass right down to the water line.


Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — a per diem meeting.

On campus



Bookstore Annual Yard Sale (Tuesday, 9am, 2nd floor, Student Union Building) — this year in a new location.

Thesis Defence, Chemistry (Tuesday, 9:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Luke Murphy will defend his thesis, “Synthesis and Catalytic Application of PSiP- and P,N-Ligated Complexes of First-Row Metals​​​.”

Deep Learning for Audio (Tuesday, 11:30am, in the auditorium named after a bank, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sageev Oore will speak.

Race and Sport in Canada (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 303, Student Union Building) — Ornella Nzindukiyimana from St. FX will speak. Register here.

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — among a few other items, the board will discuss doing away with the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Institute, which was begun in 2013. I don’t know the reason(s) for that.


Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wednesday, 9:30am, room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Sergio A. Muñoz-Gómez will defend his thesis, “The Anatomical and Phylogenetic Nature of the First Mitochondrial Ancestor.”

BRIC NS Student Seminar Series (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 313, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Noelle Ozog will talk about “Attitudes towards influenza vaccination during wait times in the emergency department,” followed by Ryley Urban with “Reallocation Model for Rural Nova Scotian Primary Care Clinics, and Impact on Access.”

Mitochondrial biogenesis in trypanosomatids: variations of a theme or fundamentally different? (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — André Schneider from the University of Bern will speak.

Farewell Reception for President Florizone (Wednesday, 4pm, Emera ideaHUB, Emera IDEA Building, 5283 Morris Street) — don’t feel too bad, because like Tom Traves before him, Florizone will continue to collect his Dal salary even as he works another job with another salary at that Ontario gig.

Dante’s Purgatorio (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — translated and adapted by Patrick Baliani, directed by Margot Dionne. Performances Wednesday–Saturday 7:30pm, Saturday 2pm. $15.

Saint Mary’s


Acadian Women and Local Vernacular in Dress: the Sewing Kit (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Burke Theatre A) — a talk by grad student Hilary Doda for the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society.

Why Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel are NOT Anti-Semitic (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 225 in the building named after a grocery store) — a panel discussion presented by CAAJP (Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace). Speakers include Virginia Tilley from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Ismail Zayid, author of Palestine, A Stolen Heritage; and Larry Haiven, author of Antisemitism in Context: Its Use and Abuse.

In the harbour

06:00: Julius-S, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
06:00: Asian King, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
07:00: Claes Maersk, container ship, arrives at Pier 36 from Montreal
10:30: Delhi Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
12:00: CMA CGM Tage, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
17:00: Julius-S sails for sea
17:00: Delhi Highway sails for sea


We’ll be publishing an article from Jennifer Henderson a bit later this morning; I just have to make a couple of graphics for it first.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. In past years, I’d often find myself in a campus building named after Camille O. and William H. Cosby. Need I say more? I don’t think so.

  2. I have just heard Mayor Savage say ” AND SOME OF THE THINGS I WANT TO SEE — AND WE’LL
    TOTAL ”
    Never mind the FTE, here are the number of employees :
    2012 ………….5,627
    2013 ………….5,645
    2014 ………….5,670
    2015 ………….5,678
    2016 ………….5,905
    2017 ………….6,199
    source : HRM documents

    1. How about throwing out some numbers regarding how much work is being contracted out by HRM as well. But that’s not your point is it?

      1. How about you tell me where to find the number of jobs contracted out ?
        As far as I know HRM has no such statistics. I suppose I could troll through all the tenders awarded to add up the cost but that wouldn’t tell me how many people work for contractors.
        The information I posted took all of 10 minutes to assemble.

  3. The garbage truck sideguards discussion is not actually watering down. The policy is still to equip all city-owned and contracted vehicles with sideguards by 2021. Since staff are recommending extending the garbage contracts, sideguards can’t be equipped through the tendering process prior to the installation deadline in the policy, so they need to spend the money to bring the trucks into compliance. In a roundabout way this is a good thing – the trucks will actually be made safer earlier than planned!